Browsing Tag

eating

Culture, Destinations, North America, Travel Tips

A Day in the Park

October 26, 2017 • By

I’ve lived in New York City the greater part of 16 years and I never tire walking through Central Park. It’s my favorite spot to seek solace and tranquility in an otherwise hectic environment.

Fantasy Aisle, Central Park, the heart of New York City

Central Park, the heart of New York City

A few weeks ago with summer bleeding into fall, I explored the park as if it was my first time. I entered 72nd Street on the east side (off limits to cars on weekends) and joined the hoards of runners and bicyclists moving uptown along their respective paths. It was hot and humid and I admired the fitness levels of those zipping past me. People dressed in sponsored training attire, fathers and mothers pushing strollers, friends talking to friends and others like me making the most of a morning in the park.

Fantasy Aisle, Early morning runners and walkers

Early morning runners and walkers

The falling leaves signal the change in seasons as shady areas succumb to open patches of golden yellow and blazing red. The squirrels don’t mind because this is their territory and they out number people. They move quickly popping in and out of pathways diving into the leaves–they are not shy.

I venture off the crowded pathway into the “Ramble” where winding walkways lead to a man-made forest within a city. The sounds of fire engines and traffic disappear and I weave around huffing and puffing in silence until I spy a couple kissing passionately. I startle them. How long have they been hiding? This is the perfect place to seek shade, read a book, grab a pair of binoculars and bird watch. I hesitate but then continue with my goal to make the 6.02-mile loop around the park.

Next, I take in an adult soccer game on the Great Lawn. They see me lurking and put on a good performance before I find myself zig-zagging on another walkway to reach the Shuman Running Path bordering the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir. The direction for runners and walkers remains unchanged year after year and I make a mental note to voice my opinion.

Fantasy Aisle, The pesky Central Park squirrel

The pesky Central Park squirrel

At the north end of the reservoir, the city skyline comes into view. There is a slight fog obscuring the tallest skyscrapers but it provides a simple backdrop to the simplicity of the calming water and the fall foliage. I walk half of the 1.58 mile-loop and exit to a bridge I’ve crossed a hundred times. It’s an antique straight out of the chalk drawing in the “Mary Poppins” Jolly Holiday scene.

Fantasy Aisle, Gothic bridge, connecting the Reservoir to the Tennis Courts at 94th Street

Gothic bridge, connecting the Reservoir to the Tennis Courts at 94th Street

I take a quick bathroom break at the tennis courts and watch a match in progress. The courts both clay and hard are filled with people of all ages and levels. If only I brought my racquet, I could practice my serve.

My feet ache for a timeout but I push myself through the Conservatory Garden. A beckoning bench reads, “Take time to sit and smell the flowers,” useful and timely advice.

Fantasy Aisle, Conservatory Garden located on the Upper East Side of the park

Conservatory Garden located on the Upper East Side of the park

Now on the West Side of the park and the sun bearing down on me, I wipe my sweat and duck into the North Meadow walking briskly to Belvedere Castle and the Shakespeare Garden. The tourists are awake and occupy the castle’s landing with cameras and tripods. I check to make sure the turtles are still roaming freely at Turtle Pond and remember my first performance of “Much Ado About Nothing” during the 2014 season of Shakespeare in the Park.

Fantasy Aisle, Empty swings await

Empty swings await

Fatigue sets in and I’m counting the 40+ blocks I need to finish the 6.02-mile loop. The joy has vanished from my face and my walk transformed from a leisurely activity into a mission of sorts. I notice a woman on a swing and move to take her picture but pause. We exchange pleasantries and I admit I haven’t sat on a swing in ages. She tells me to give it a try and I do. I’m kicking my legs faster and faster and soaring into the air. We swing together but not in unison. She is in her 60s I guess and loves the park for the swings. She stops, waves and bids me a good day. I let my hair blow in the wind and push higher and higher until I am scared and slow my pace. A child inhabited my body and I jump off the swing making a skittish landing on the sand. I recover. That was fun.

Fantasy Aisle, A beautiful bride poses at Bethesda Terrace and Fountain (lower passage) in Central Park

A beautiful bride poses at Bethesda Terrace and Fountain (lower passage) in Central Park

Central Park serves as an open-air museum and events center to New Yorkers and its guests. There is something for everyone whether it’s catching rays of sun in Sheep Meadow, paddling a rowboat on the pond near the Loeb Boat House, pledging wedding vows at the Bethesda Terrace and Fountain or listening to the talented musicians scattered along Literary Walk, a day in the park is only the beginning.

When I bought a park map from Karina, a 24-year-old student from the Bronx, I asked her what she enjoyed most about the park and she answered, “Literary Walkduh. I finished my adventure along the Mall admiring the statues of Robert Burns and Sir Walter Scott and talking with Shayneh Starks, a native of Newport Beach, CA who has been visiting Central Park for the last 20 some years. She sits and listens to the magical music of Ralph U. Williams who is a talent on the saxophone. We discuss her first visit to the park with her mother when she was 21-years-old and I tell her I love zooming around the park on my bike but early on weekends before the tourists arrive. I ask her what she likes most.  She pauses and with passion and a smile answers, “The best part of Central Park is the fireflies.”

Fantasy Aisle, The Mall and Literary Walk, a favorite of many in Central Park

The Mall and Literary Walk, a favorite of many in Central Park

I agree. I thank Shayneh for the conversation and hunt for an empty bench in front of Kerbs Boathouse. The next few hours I bask in the sun reading my book and forgetting I live in a city with 8.5 million people.

My Favorite Spots in Central Park

The Pond at sunrise.  Take in the view of the Gapstow Bridge and a glimpse of the city’s skyline

 

Sip a coffee or a grab a drink at Kerbs Boathouse/Conservatory Water

Walk/Run the 1.58 mile loop around the Reservoir

Fancy a game of tennis?

Camp out all night for free tickets to Shakespeare in the Park at the Delacorte Theater (I usually cheat and become a member of the public theater)

Take a break at Strawberry Fields and listen to the Beatles greatest hits played by visiting musicians

Enjoy paddle boating at the Loeb Boathouse

Read a book and fall asleep in Sheep Meadow

Enjoy an outdoor lunch at Tavern on the Green

Let someone else do the driving on a romantic Horse Carriage Ride through the park

Breathe in the sounds and sights of Literary Walk/the Mall

Catch a free movie night in the Park

Plan for a Concert in the Park

Snap pictures of the Boathouse and people getting married at the Bethesda Terrace and Fountain

Fun for kids and parents

Make some figure eights at the Wollman Rink

Get dizzy on the Carousel

Pet an animal or two at the Tisch Children’s Zoo

Go paddle boating at the Loeb Boathouse and take in city views


Destinations, Europe

Seeing and Eating my way through Reykjavik (more eating)

July 6, 2015 • By

When I packed my Lululemon yoga pants for the trip, I anticipated wearing them on the hiking excursions I would be taking but since I am solo and have been partaking in private and group tours, they are currently being utilized for the expandable ahem elastic waistband needed after a absolutely delicious meal in Reykjavik.

No one told me I would encounter such beauty, such color, and such lingering impressions of the FOOD in Iceland. There wasn’t one guidebook or blog that suggested I would need to apply to Weight Watchers or Atkins upon my re-entry into the United States. Enough about my problems, let me share with you how I have been eating and seeing my way through Iceland.

Editor’s Advice: Don’t shy away from local food such as whale, puffin and lamb soup.  To experience a foreign land is one thing; to get to know it through its food is quite another.

Enjoy Fredrik 5, Laugavegi for a surprise tasting menu with wine pairings. My three-course overindulgence included an Icelandic favorite of dried codfish, skyr (similar to thick yogurt) accompanied by fresh warm kale and sun-dried tomato bread, a fish serving with cod and lobster and finally lamb and a side of shepherd’s pie. My dessert consisted of edible flowers with a chocolate sensation to cure any sugar craving.

For a quickie informal lunch don’t miss Sea Barron at the old harbor, Geirsgata 8. Taste any of the skewers of whale, salmon, shrimp and scallops but definitely don’t miss their famous lobster soup a salty, wonder of warmth to fill your cravings.

Yearning for a hipster scene? Look no further than Snaps, Þórsgata 1. My friends spotted Björk here in November. I was not so lucky but on July 4 I did meet a fellow American avoiding life for a while, which is always fun. Savor the mussels and find a soup spoon to enjoy the sauce. Slurp away because you cannot waste one bite. Try the lemon tart and select a local beer like Einstok Pale Ale to quench your thirst. The food is delicious and the atmosphere makes you feel like you tried a “cool” place.

Fantasy Aisle

Trying the Mussels

 

Dinner with a view you ask? Then my answer is Kopar, Geirsgötu 3.  Order the tasting menu or do it yourself with fancy seafood, salads and oooohhh the bread and butter.  I recommend the cod and cheese-laden potatoes and don’t stick your nose up at the horse sampling.  It’s worth a taste–a few bites at least. In texture, it’s like rare tuna and the flavor is fine but I did possibly imagine an after taste and washed it down with a sauvignon blanc just in case.  f you have room for dessert, I suggest the caramel heaven sampler, my server’s favorite and mine too.

For a quickie, go once, twice, maybe even three times to Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur, Austurströnd 3.  My dislike of onions prevented me from the sampling the works but I ordered up the rest of the fixings, which includes mustard and a special sauce. Who needs pork or beef when you can have a lamb dog? It’s the only way to go in Iceland.

Fantasy aisle

Lamb Hot Dogs

For real fish and chips, I ventured into Fish Restaurant Reykjavik, Ingolfsstraeti 8, & Skolavoroustig 23. It’s a bit more of a do it yourself but the fish was fresh and after a few hours pounding the streets of Reykjavik, it’s worth a quick stop.

Visit Old Iceland Restaurant, Laugavegur 72 for a quaint surprise. I happened upon this place as it looked inviting and an escape from the rain. In need of some veggies, I ordered the salad with mixed greens and Camembert cheese and the special “ling” fish of the day. Wow! The fish was cooked to perfection and the sun dried tomato and pesto dashes of flavor made this one of my favorite meals in Reykjavik. It was so good I shared the bottle of wine I ordered with my neighbors from the UK and then ordered “mom’s rhubarb cake,” which is nothing like my mother has ever baked out of a box or by scratch. It was more like a fresh bar of savory flavor  and granola oats with real whipped cream. Back to the Spandex.

Fantasy Aisle

Mouthwatering I could have had a second

Go hungry! For my last night in Reykjavik, I followed my friend’s recommendation to try Grill Market.  You can follow the tasting menu or order off the menu.  As a solo diner, I opted for two appetizers the Minke Whale Steak, Puffin (local bird) and Lobster mini burgers, followed by lamb skewers and a main course of cod.  Lastly, I convinced myself since it was my last night and I must go out with a bang (or sick to my stomach) and order dessert. My server persuaded me to try the chocolate lovers ecstasy made with mascarpone sabayone, hot caramel sauce, coffee ice cream, rice crispies, and whip cream.  Indeed, it’s now on my top five list of sweet treats, a very coveted and most caloric specific list.

It’s possible the Red Cross is based in Iceland not for the natural disasters like the earthquakes and volcanoes but to rescue me from eating.  I noticed a freighter coming into port today.

For those needing a cafe kick, I highly recommend Reykjavik Roasters Kárastígur 1 to stay or to go and Cafe Paris, Austurstræti 14 for the leisurely coffee or tea drinker.

Need some 80s music and a lively environment, try English pub on a Friday or Saturday and for a special treat. Check out what’s happening at the Harpa daily.

Top 10 to see in Reykjavik

  • Learn a thing or two at a museum: The National Gallery of Iceland for art, the Maritime Museum for a history lesson on fishing and the sea or the Sagas Museum to hear “stories” of Iceland’s settlers and the National Museum of Iceland for an in depth look at the past
  • Take the On the Bus Off the Bus for a quick lay of the land
  • Walk the old and new port. See the Sun Voyager and Reykjavik’s modern buildings mixed with its old. Wander the downtown streets checking out the Parliament Building, City Hall and the Culture House

Fantasy Aisle

  • Visit Perlan for the panoramic views
  • Shop Laugavegur Street and take home a Nordic sweater, hat or blanket.  Do I really need a blue and white gorgeous Nordic blanket for $165—Maybe?  Yes, I think I do
Main Shopping Street

Main Shopping Street

  • Eat Ice Cream – Icelanders venture out in the cold dark of night for their favorite.  Go for the soft serve it’s not like Mr. Softee at all.  It has flavor and substance
  • Visit Hallgrimskirkja, a Lutheran Church and check out its tower for the view
  • Buy a treasure at the Flea Market (only on weekends)
  • Meet the locals and have a conversation – they are kind and generous and will giggle at your attempts to go unnoticed
  • Go whale watching if that is your thing and then write a letter and ask them to stop killing the whales when you return to your country then definitely try Minke Whale in the restaurants
  • Just one more….swim in a geothermal pool